Follow Up #2 (~11,000 miles)
I have been holding off on this update until I could drive on these Nittos in the snow, preferably more than once. Mother nature has been reluctant to cooperate. Winter here started with an unseasonably mild December. We had a couple cold snaps in January, but snowfall was limited to a couple dustings. I have noticed that the slight steering vibration which surfaces after the car has been sitting for an extended time is a bit more pronounced in the colder months. As it still seems to work itself out in only a mile or two of driving, I consider it to be but a minor annoyance. The qualities I really appreciated about the tire in the warm, namely the quiet ride and above-average grip, have persisted in the cold, even at temperatures have as low 5* F (-15* C). Wet traction and grip in just-above-freezing temps has been exemplary as well.
It wasn’t until February that we had any notable accumulations of snow and I finally had an opportunity to evaluate how the Motivos would behave in the white stuff. I wish I had something profound to report but the truth is they perform about exactly as you would expect a set of high-performance all-season tires to perform; adequate but not outstanding. After two seasons of driving on true snow tires, I was forced to recalibrate my right foot. More judicious application of the throttle was required as any sudden onset of turbo boost would overwhelm the available traction at all 4 wheels. Cornering and braking also required thoughtful, gentle application of control inputs. With the proper amount of restraint, however, I was able to make the 20 mile commute between home and work multiple times over snow-covered roads without any surprises. I have made this exact trip in similar conditions on many different tires. Here’s my opinion of how the Motivo’s stack up against them in the snow:
- Substantially better in every way than “Extreme Performance Summer” rated Bridgestone RE-070′s
- A bit better than “High Performance All-Season” rated Bridgestone RE-92A’s.(o.e. tires on this 2006 WRX)
- Less traction than “Light Truck Highway All-Season” rated Yokohama Geolander G95′s (o.e. tires on my wife’s 2013 Subaru Forester)
- Substantially less capable than “Severe Snow Service” rated General Alitimax Artic’s (unstudded, run on this car the previous two winters).
Like I said previously, there’s nothing groundbreaking here; the Motivos fit in the above hierarchy exactly where I think most people would expect. They’ll get you through the occasional snow encounter. They can work all winter if you drive gingerly in the white stuff. You certainly won’t mistake them for true snow tires, however.
I recently took a tread-depth gauge to the Motivos to see how they were wearing. The center and outside grooves all measured between 8/32″ and 9/32″ with no signs of feathering or other abnormal wear on the outside shoulders. Two of the tires showed ~7/32″ on the inside edge and a third one was at 6/32″. It must be noted that the last time I aligned this car I set the front camber outside the factory specifications (-1.4*) and with a touch of front toe-out. I’m therefore not surprised to see some excessive inside wear. The reason for the inconsistent #’s tire-to-tire is that I have not gone through a full rotation cycle yet. The one tire with the most inside wear has been at both front positions, while the tire with the least inside wear hasn’t been on the front yet; the other two have spent roughly half the 11,000 miles on the front and half on the rear.
Ignoring the inside wear issues, which I attribute entirely to my choice of alignment settings, the tires appear to have gone through roughly 20-25 percent of their useable tread. Using extrapolation, that suggests a tread life of roughly 44,000-55,000 miles. That’s a bit shorter than the advertised tread life of 60,000, but I don’t consider the wear so far to be unreasonable. First of all, my driving style would be considered by most to be well to the “spirited” side of normal. Secondly, it is unknown at this point whether the tread wear rate of these tires will prove to be linear, progressive, or regressive over their life-span. I intend to post more tread wear data in a final update sometime this summer. I also expect to have the back-to-back autocross testing results which I was unable to get this fall.
Until then, I look forward to continuing to drive on the Nitto Motivos. They have an amazingly broad operating window with good dry and wet weather grip, a comfortable and quiet ride, consistency across a broad range of temperatures, and just enough snow performance to get by. Based on my extended experience, I now feel confident giving them my endorsement.